If you go to a certain section of Washington Ave, you’re inundated with vietnamese restaurants. It’s beyond awesome. You would be hard pressed not to be able to find whatever vietnamese vittles you were looking for. So when a new vietnamese spot opens up, you’d be quick to say, oh, another one? The difference with Le Viet is that it’s swanky. Even their website is swanky! They had a grand opening celebration, complete with lion dancing and loud ass firecrackers.
There’s nothing utilitarian or pho-factory like about this place. It’s all about dark woods, parallel lines, glass tiles, and minimalism. It’s a sleek and modern spot with all kinds of fancy presentations, a bar with flat screens, and an open kitchen you can peek into. The menu is not that big, and quite different from your standard pho spot. There’s no make-you-own-pho, there’s no giant list of buns or rice plates. There are appetizers, entrees, some soups, some drinks. But they do have your standards like rolls, crepes, pho, bun, etc.
H/A always gets his rainbow ice. Here, they have a swanky version made with three different kinds of beans. It looks hella scary to me. It just seems like they threw in some white beans and two different kinds of kidney beans right out of the can into this glass. Shudder. I know it’s not those kinds of beans, but still. I think I’m also scared by those weird jelly bits. But H/A certainly enjoyed it.
He got the house pho. It’s so swanky that it comes out in a white porcelain bowl! No plastic! I snuck a spoonful of the broth, and let me tell you, the broth is great. It doesn’t even need to be adulterated at all with condiments. It’s pretty great just as is. The house pho has all kinds of scary bits in it, along with meatballs. Not scary to some, but probably scary to lots of americans. There’s all kinds of innards in there… parts of stomachs and knuckley bits. So if you don’t mind the questionable bits, it’s a great bowl of fancy pho.
I went specifically to get the specialty – a tomato broth based crab noodle soup. It has skinny white round noodles. I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of noodles these were, but all I knew was that I liked them. They apparently make one pot of this soup a day, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s a tomato broth, like I said, not really spicy at all, despite its appearance, and topped with little bits of crab, shrimp paste, and herbs. Instead of sprouts, they serve shredded iceberg lettuce as your soup topping. This soup has a nice and subtle flavor, and is a good alternative when you don’t want pho. I particularly enjoyed the texture of the noodles, even though I can’t really describe it.
The service was pretty damn bad. But I will blame that on first week jitters, inexperienced servers, and an unexpected lunch rush due to the grand opening. The amount of waiting we had to do was ridiculous. I mean, even for the rainbow ice. We had to ask for it after about 15 minutes of waiting for nothing to show up. And we kept seeing all kinds of food being given out to everyone else, even to people that were seated way after us. It was irksome. I guess we’re quite spoiled because when I typically go to a pho place, my food comes out in about 15 nanoseconds. I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but man alive, did we have to wait way too long for this food to come out. And it was obvious that our server had no clue. She didn’t really know anything about what was on the menu, let alone the details of any of the dishes. She also took a menu away after taking a drink order.
Will I go back to Le Viet? Eh, it’s not likely, and it has nothing to do with the food. I just don’t feel that the quality or taste of the food, price, and ambiance are all that worth it. I think part of the appeal of vietnamese food is how affordable it is. Here, you pay about 25% more for everything just because they hired an interior decorator. And while I hope the service improves, my goodness I hope it improves, the service certainly isn’t worthy of a 25% hike. I’ll give up ambiance any day for a great plate or bowl of delicious food. But I think it’s a nice alternative for when ambiance does matter to you, or for those of you dining with someone who wants more of a swanky experience. They don’t have their liquor license yet, but once they get it, I think it will definitely be a nice place to grab a drink.